§ 5. Colonel WEDGWOOD
asked the Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether he 1881 will make a statement as to the deportation without trial of three notable Egyptians and the resignation of the Government?
A statement on this subject, which is too long to give as an oral answer to my hon. and gallant Friend's question, will be printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ The following is the statement referred to:
§ In November last a deputation of Egyptian Nationalists, under the leadership of Saad Pasha Zaglul, called at the British Residency to advocate a programme of complete autonomy of Egypt, which would leave to Great Britain only a right of supervision in regard to the Public Debt and facilities for shipping in the Suez Canal. They demanded that they should be allowed to proceed to London at once in order to put forward their demands. At the same time the Nationalists elected a committee of fourteen leaders and commenced an agitation throughout the country, collecting signatures to petitions and also subscriptions in support of their programme.
§ Shortly afterwards the Prime Minister, Ruchdi Pasha, suggested that he and Adly Pasha, Minister of Education, should visit London in the immediate future in order to discuss Egyptian affairs. He further urged that the Nationalist leaders should also be allowed a hearing in London.
§ His Majesty's Government, in reply, stated that, while sympathising with the idea of giving the Egyptians an ever-increasing share in the government of the country, they could not abandon their responsibilities for order and good government in Egypt, over which a British Protectorate had been formally declared in 1915, and for safeguarding the rights and interests of the native and foreign populations. No useful purpose would be served by allowing the Nationalist leaders to come to London and advance immoderate demands which could not possibly be entertained. As regards the two Ministers their visit would be very welcome, but it would be better, in the interests of their own convenience and dignity, that it should not be timed to coincide with the first weeks of the Peace Conference, when Mr. Balfour would be absent in Paris and fully engaged. It was 1882 proposed that the visit should be postponed for a short time. The two Ministers tendered their resignations to the Sultan.
§ At the beginning of January the British High Commissioner (Sir R. Wingate) was summoned to London to report upon the situation, and an invitation was addressed to the two Ministers to come here in the middle of February. But they replied that they declined to come unless the Nationalist leaders were also permitted to proceed to London. His Majesty's. Government felt unable to accept such a condition, and the resignations of the two Ministers, which had remained in suspense, have been accepted by the Sultan. Steps were then taken for the formation of a new Ministry, but the Nationalists, on hearing of the refusal of their demand, have endeavoured to prevent a Ministry from being formed by intimidating the Sultan and those Ministers or others who were ready to remain in or accept office.
§ His Highness has appealed to the Acting-High Commissioner for protection from further insults and intimidations, and authority was given for the arrest and deportation to Malta of Saad Pasha Zaglul and three other Nationalist leaders who have played the most conspicuous part in the present agitation.
§ There have since been some demonstrations and rioting in Cairo, and in one or two provincial centres, chiefly organised by students, who have enlisted the help of the town rabble. Collisions have occurred with the Egyptian police and with the British troops engaged in maintaining order, and there have been some casualties, while a few looters have been shot.
§ These manifestations are not approved by the more sober elements of the population. There is every reason to believe that the situation is well in hand.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Did the War Cabinet approve the action of the Local Government in Egypt in accepting the resignations?